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25 May 2011

Getting personal

By Peter Müller

GMC Software Technology | www.gmc.net

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A properly implemented personalisation strategy can help your business to improve on every front, says Peter Müller.


“Personalisation, properly implemented, will not only help to retain customers and improve customer loyalty, it also has the potential to increase revenue and reduce costs”

Q. My bottom line is my priority - how can personalisation help that?

Peter Müller . Let's take this one step at a time.

First of all, what do we mean by personalisation? Currently it's used as a kind of 'catch-all' generalisation that covers everything from a document with a simple name and address to the most highly tailored communication, created using a host of different data sources - and everything in between.

True personalisation, as enabled by current software and data handling technology, encompasses every customer contact point and all media- print, electronic and phone- in an integrated whole. It forms the backbone of a modern CCM strategy and it covers not only the way someone is addressed but the content of a communication, the timing and also the channel- print, electronic, text or phone. It is a highly personal, totally relevant and timely conversation with each customer showing a business is aware of customer preferences. And it works.

In fact it works so well, and has proved so cost-effective, that it remains one of the biggest growth areas in marketing communications globally.

Personalisation, properly implemented, will not only help to retain customers and improve customer loyalty, it has the potential to increase revenue and reduce costs.

Holding on

Every business relies on its customers; and keeping them is key. It makes sense to begin looking at improving revenue from those businesses or individuals about whom we know quite a lot already and with whom we have an existing relationship.

Improved personalisation helps this in two ways: it demonstrates that a business knows and cares about a customer and remembers their preferences. It shows that it will act on information the customer supplied and is sensitive to issues that matter to them. Feeling valued is vital if a customer is not to simply shop around for a better deal every time. Staying put is easier for them too.

Secondly it enables a business to add value by cross-selling and upselling by using this relevant information to select appropriate offers or marketing messages. Current technology means that whether a business speaks to one or a thousand individuals, each item of correspondence or collection of messages or offers can be different.

It's an efficient way of making more with what you've got. The fully automated systems that enable this to happen will also feed the results back and help to improve future communications, improving marketing techniques and honing the CCM strategy.

It also enables businesses to try new marketing techniques - like transpromo - where relevant personalised marketing messages are cleverly combined with transactional information on statements or bills instead of in loose inserts.

Transactional materials are almost always read and thus relevant personalised messages incorporated in them stand a much higher chance of also being read, bringing higher response rates for your business' products and services.

That's why this is becoming a favoured technique by some of the world's financial institutions where the results have been so significant that some report response rates have more than tripled from earlier, traditional direct mail campaigns.

Reducing costs

There are cost and efficiency savings associated with personalisation too. Time to market with personalised documents can now be days rather than weeks or months; new techniques can quickly and easily be trialled and design and marketing, sales and creative personnel can be fully hands on at every stage without having to go through IT departments first. The whole process is automatically managed by the controlling software. This makes for more visually imaginative and impactful marketing material.

Print costs come down as customers opt for electronic communications and full colour digital printing on plain paper, cutting stationery expenses, while postal optimisation features mean postage is reduced, too. All this doesn't mean higher IT costs either - today's automated personalisation solutions are totally accessible to most staff, freeing up expensive IT time.

So personalisation assists the bottom line by helping you retain customers and grow revenue from them as well as providing a highly cost-efficient marketing tool.

Biography

Peter Müller is President of European Operations for GMC Software Technology, directing all activities for EMEA, the Indian Peninsula and Mexico. Before joining GMC, Peter spent 12 years at Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, where he successfully developed the Swiss Sales office as Managing Director.


Disclaimer: All comments posted in a personal capacity
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Disclaimer: All comments posted in a personal capacity